Brighton Rock: Style Over Substance.

March 14, 2013
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll sometimes take an entirely superficial stance when considering a film’s merits i.e. a film may might be tripe as regards narrative, characterisation, editing and/or cinematography but if several of its stills look good, then I’m reasonably happy. Ditto, if the actors are attractive.
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Rowan Joffe’s Brighton Rock serves as a good example for this. A semi-remake of John Boulting’s 1947 adaptation of the Graham Green novel of the same name, the film deals with hoodlums, gang rivalry and dysfunctional love in small-town Britain, differentiating itself from the novel and first film adaptation by switching the temporal backdrop from the 1930’s to the 1960’s mods and rockers era.
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Thanks to this change, the film emerges from the 30’s fashions synonymous with the gangster genre, substituting slim suits and peter-pan-collared shirts for the boxier silhouettes of the interwar era, and replacing lightweight trenches with parkas and heavy peacoats.
Thankfully, the efforts made in costume redeem the film’s generally tedious rhythm, making a lot of the impatience-inducing action vaguely pleasurable to watch. Performances are decent, with Riseborough every inch the naive deer caught in the headlights and Riley embodying the ruthless ambition of Pinkie Brown. 
Still, though, this is definitely one to watch if it’s style over substance that you’re after.

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^ Rising star Andrea Riseborough as Rose and Brit indie-film poster-boy Sam Riley as Pinkie Brown

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^ Helen Mirren as Ida with John Hurt as Phil Corkery
P.S. Major thanks to Le Cool for organising the preview screening at Movies @ Dundrum!
Images from,,, The Telegraph, The Film Pilgrim,

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  • whisty February 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I loved the original, the book and I also have a massive thing for the whole Brighton Mod thing. I adore watching Mirren and Hurt so I pretty much was going to love it. And I did, completely. Enough to go and watch it again. Love your view on it though. When Pinkie and Rose come round the corner on a Lambretta and joined the mods… i think I nearly cried! The movie looks amazing.

  • Cillian February 22, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Yes! To be honest, their exchanges were the highlight of the film for me. Yeah, the scooter scene was really eye-catching and well executed.C.